PNC/R walks out after Parliament turns down 'Gajraj' motion request
by Chamanlall Naipaul
March 16, 2004
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Leader of the Opposition and the PNC/R, Mr. Robert Corbin sought to bring to the National Assembly the issue of the alleged existence of death squads and their linkage to Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj as a matter of definite urgent public importance, contending that it poses a serious threat to human rights in Guyana.
Reading from a letter he sent earlier to the Speaker indicating his intention of moving the motion, Corbin reiterated the PNC/R's call for an independent inquiry into the allegation of the minister's involvement in death squads, and his removal from office to accommodate such an inquiry. He added that similar calls have been made by local political parties and reputable human rights international organizations.
However, the Speaker quoting profusely from authorities on parliamentary procedures disallowed the motion.
Dealing with the issue of being timely informed, the Speaker declared: "On a ruling by my distinguished predecessor, the Honourable Sase Narain, Adjournment Motions are required to be lodged by the Clerk by 11:00 a.m the day on which it is intended to move it. The rationale for the ruling is clearly demonstrated in this case." He added that the Adjournment Motion which consisted of six pages and six resolutions was received by him at 12:10 p.m.
The Speaker also pointed out that the issues contained in the motion occurred between December 2003 and January this year, therefore there has been "more than sufficient time for the motion to have been lodged within the 14-day notice required for a private member's motion.
In reply, Mr. Corbin said while he respects the ruling of the Speaker, his party would not continue to participate in proceedings because a matter of such national importance was not allowed to grace the National Assembly because of technicalities.
The PNC/R members then proceeded to join a protest outside the National Assembly held at Ocean View Convention Centre, calling for the removal of the Home Affairs Minister.